As an employee, it is often frustrating to have to do things without having been given the right tools.

As an employee, it is often frustrating to have to do things without having been given the right tools. Over the past decade, employees have often been better equipped at home than in the office, where they are free to download the latest programs and applications. Faced with the risks of shadow IT and the increasing number of solutions, it has become necessary for companies to find and impose an effective common tool across the board. But it is vital that the process of choosing and implementing this common tool is made in collaboration with employees, rather than just ignoring them totally. If not, it is very likely that the proposed tool will be rejected and become a bone of contention. Here are four steps which will help avoid that situation and survive to tell the story of its implementation.

Employees in DIY mode

At work, everyone tries to circumvent the rules laid down by the CIO which require us to work with outdated and unsupported versions of tools that are a decade old. Conversely, we are also fighting to use old tools which we know work because we do not want to abandon them for newer ones with uncertain efficiency. A good example of this was the poor adoption of Windows 8 and the remarkable longevity of Windows XP and 7. These varying responses to the edicts of the IT department are often seen by employees as inevitable and necessary to be able to get work done properly with the right tools.

Source: Zdnet, 2016

According to a Stratecast-McAfee study carried out in 2013 with 600 employees from large companies (more than 1,000 employees), more than 80% of them used shadow IT or software (often in SaaS mode) which was prohibited by the business.

Against this background, it is easy to understand why, when management decrees that everyone without exception will use a new communications tool, the first noise that can be heard is not applause but the grinding of teeth!

This resistance is entirely predictable when employees are faced with a tool decided on from above, because employees need to be convinced that management have made the best choice rather than just being told it is the best choice.

Employees need communication tools that facilitate cross-functional work with colleagues in other companies (whether synchronous or asynchronous), and to be able to collaborate on shared documents by voice calls, video or instant messaging.

Usually, we find ourselves using several applications to manage all of these different functionalities, and we move from one to another more or less fluidly but not without an occasional bit of annoyance.

Complications arise when our colleagues have made different choices, and those complications are multiplied if we are in a BYOD (bring your own device) environment. Hello to hours lost due to the incompatibility of the wide variety of different systems!

But what we perceived as bad news can quickly become manna from heaven when we have a powerful and shared tool that meets our essential workplace communication needs.

This diagram summarizes the 4 steps to be followed so as to successfully adopt a collaborative tool within a business and avoid its rejection by employees:

The 4 Ds of transformation (Vincent Berthelot)

1 - The shared diagnostic phase

Management will have definitely made a mistake if they have managed to provoke reactions of rejection among their employees. There are theoretical arguments that this is a natural reaction in a management/employee relationship but, at the end of the day, inciting those kinds of reactions is not the best way of encouraging employees to adopt a new tool.

Going through a diagnostic phase and sharing the results in a collaborative way allows all employees to understand that their personal preferences may have implications for the wider company and may not be the best approach in terms of business efficiency.

This diagnostic phase allows management to better identify and understand the expectations of their employees and to explain the benefits that any new, common tool could bring.

2 - Brainstorming the ideal collaborative tool

How much time could be saved by working collaboratively, using a patchwork of non-integrated tools and a futuristic vision of the digital workplace? A redesigned communication tool that fits with our new ways of working which also allows for innovative digital uses will improve both individual and collective efficiency. In addition, it lets us focus on the core of our work instead of concentrating on the means to achieve it.

It is essential to allow employees to express their difficulties and frustrations when using obsolete business tools. This phase allows the business to understand employees’ real expectations and to check if the new tool provides the right responses to the problems faced by staff.

It is also in this phase that we can build a common language so that management can speak the same language as employees when presenting the solution to them. This makes it easier to communicate the benefits of any new collaboration tool on the same terms as employees perceive the existing problems and to illustrate its improved functionalities and uses.

3 - Delivery – the change management phase

Clearly, this project’s change management should make employees feel that their problems are being taken seriously and solved by management and IT departments, rather than just finding out that, overnight, all the IT preferences, DIY workarounds and macros that they have crafted and got used to have been replaced by a new, unknown system.

The announcement about the arrival of a new collaborative tool should be good news and not the equivalent of an announcement of new checks or the imposition of new constraints on staff.

To be successful, however, the new tool must properly respond to the needs of staff and give real productivity gains, making work much easier than the previous corporate tool or the patchwork solutions put together by employees.

The new tool should not crush the employees, but should empower and free them from irrelevant digital tools that do not help their work lives.

The launch plan should "facilitate employee collaboration and their ownership " (Source: Morgan Baulme, Internal Communications Officer, Clarins).

This new tool must also facilitate new ways of working and allow employees to continue to collaborate even when not at their appointed workstation but on the move, in a co-working space or remote working from home. In that way, the IT is adapting to the challenges of an agile organization and new work patterns.

4 - Submission or Adoption? The Hell to Heaven phase

By meeting all the expectations that surround a new collaborative tool, we move from the hell of submission to the paradise of adoption, and we ensure a rapid and successful deployment that will quickly become anchored in the new ways of working without risking getting bogged down in a period of resistance to change.

It is the duty of the company not to abandon its employees, leaving them alone to meet the new demands of an increasingly transversal and mobile work regime.  Instead, to the company should relieve them of these challenges with a solution that is suited to deal with the current changes to the way we work and do business.

About the author
Blog author vincent berthelot 82x82

Vincent Berthelot

Editor-in-Chief for HRChannel TV

Vincent Berthelot has been Editor-in-Chief for HR Channel at HRChannel TV and has numerous platforms on Enterprise 2.0, community management and the socialization of HR processes. He is also the co-author of several books on the social web.

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